The Stars And Stripes
Sunday, March 25, 1945
Vol. 1 No. 241
Paris Edition

Five Allied armies are across the Rhine today on a 125-mile front in the north, the British Second Army has bridgeheads north and south of Wesel. Below Wesel, U.S. Ninth Army troops are four miles beyond the river. Inland, the First Allied Airborne Army, dropped yesterday morning, is fighting to link up with bridgehead forces.
To the south, the First Army's Remagen bridgehead has swelled to 33 by 10 miles, and between Mainz and Worms the Third Army is pumping troops and supplies into its bridgehead won Thursday.

Airborne Troops 9th, British Strike
By Robert L. Moora
Stars and Stripes Staff Writer

The Allies hurled three armies across the northern. Rhine River yesterday, one of them by air, to open the grand offensive to win the war in Europe.
American, British and Canadian troops, crossing at night with the aid of the U.S. and Royal Navies and in the wake of the greatest softening-up aerial offensive in history, stormed onto the east bank of the river at scattered points along a 25,000 yard front just above the Ruhr.
Within 24 hours they had secured strong bridgeheads, had thrown pontoon bridges across and were in control of the east bank at one point for a distance of more than 12 miles.

As daylight came, long columns of troop-carrying aircraft and towplanes, 3,000 strong, roared over the area to deliver thousands of paratroops and glider troops behind the enemy's riverfront defenses. By afternoon ground and airborne forces had linked.

From dawn until dusk, Allied air forces, using every plane they could get into the air, brought to a smashing climax the program of devastation they had carried on day after day across northwest Germany. Bombers and fighters blasted railways, road networks, airfields and supply points and rained bombs and bullets on enemy troops facing the attackers.
It was a combined operation second only to the Normandy assault itself.
Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, commanding the 21st Army Group, launched the offensive shortly after 9 PM.

Friday, From the west bank, which had been shrouded by a 66-mile-long smokescreen for days; American troops of Lt. Gen. William H. Simpson's Ninth Army and British and Canadian troops of the British Second Army crossed the river in assault craft of every type used in previous river crossings-and, in addition, small naval craft brought overland for the task.

Their attacks were north and south of Wesel, a city of 24,000 peacetime population on the east bank only a dozen miles north of the congested factory districts of the Ruhr Valley.

Headquarters of 21st Army Group announced late last night that the Allies were in control of the east bank for a distance of 12 miles as the crow flies and much further along the twisting river.
This was from a point just south of Wesel northward to Rees.

In the vicinity of Wesel itself, British First Commando Brigade took the enemy by surprise, in spite of Germany's repeated predictions the attack was coming in that area.
They entered the town, captured the commander of its garrison troops and last night were reported fighting in the streets.
Maj. Gen. Deutsch, commander of flak batteries there, was killed.

Twelve and a half miles north of Wesel. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders established a bridgehead at least 2,000 to 3,000 yards deep and had entered the town of Rees, astride the Emmerich-Wesel railway.

Roughly half way between Rees.and Wesel, other Second Army troops established a third bridgehead. opposite the west bank town of Xanten.
It was also reported last night to be at least 2.000 to 3,000 yards deep.

In Wesel, Bislich and Rees, British commandos were at grips with fanatical German paratroops. Ninth Army troops, who began crossing in bright moonlight between 0200 and 0300 yesterday morning established a substantial bridgehead south of Wesel but the exact point was not named.

Wes Gallagher, Associated Press reporter with the Ninth Army, said the Ninth had crossed two miles south of Wesel and again four miles south and had advanced three to four miles northeast of the Rhine, capturing a dozen or so small towns, including Torda.
The town of Dinslaken had been reached.

Reports late last night from the front said the progress of the offensive was good, that resistance was lighter than had been expected and that casualties were few for such an operation.
The Second Army had counted more than 1,500 prisoners and the Ninth Army, more than 700 by noon, and a returning airman said he saw streams of German troops and civilians walking back toward the Rhine at one point with their hands clasped above their heads."

Despite the fact that the Allies were piercing their main defense, not only close to the vital Ruhr Valley but on the classic invasion highway into Germany, they found the enemy's forward positions held only in moderate strength, and it was stated at Supreme Headquarters in the afternoon that no reserve forces had yet been encountered.

Largest Airborne Operation The airborne operation, described officially as the largest ever undertaken by Allied forces, was carried out in broad daylight by the First Allied Airborne Army under command of Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton.
A skytrain totaling in length more than 500 miles, exclusive of the hundreds of fighters which gave protection, carried American and British divisions into the heart of Keselring's defenses from airfields in France and England.

One report, from an American broadcaster at the front, said 40.000 airborne troops had been dropped.
The gliders carried jeeps and artillery pieces, including 75s, in addition to troops.

The ground forces linked up with the airborne yesterday afternoon when a Bren gun carrier with Scottish troops met American paratroops on the edge of a wood, a Reuter front-line dispatch said.

Construction of bridges on the Ninth Army front, south of Wesel, was begun during the afternoon, Associated Press said.
Neither the airborne operation nor the day-long aerial support provideo by the Allied forces suffered interference from the Luftwaffe. Throughout the day, as Allied craft ranged across an area whose airfieldswere already mere cemeteries for planes, only a handful of German fighters were spotted.

Allied pilots. meanwhile, combing the entire battlefield on the east bank of the Rhine, had set Kesselring's defenses ablaze from end to end. Vehicles and buildings were afire throughout the area and by late afternoon all targets were obscured by smoke, according to dispatches from Second Tactical headquarters.
In addition to bombing and strafing, Allied air support included dropping of supplies About 240 Liberators of the Eighth AF dropped supplies to the airborne troops during the morning.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham, who was in charge of coordinating the work of the tactical air forces m the operation. gave the signal to start the oftensive. After studying weather reports, he telephoned to Montgomery, according to a Reuter, dispatch, and said Everything is set lair. Lets go.

First troops to cross were Scotfish troops, veterans of Libya and Normandy. from the Fifth Royal Tank Regiment. which took the first vehicle across the Rhine in the last war.
By daylight, reinforcements were being rushed across the river in huge numbers.
What was happening on the river and in the bridge-heads themselves was pictured most vividly by pilots returning from support missions.

S/Sgt. Marion Scarberry, of Dal las, Tex., a Liberator waistgunner. said: "There seem to be thousands of trucks and men going across the Rhine on barges and pontoon bridges "
A Canadian recon pilot said:
"It's great to see our troops tearing along the roads in halftracks already organized into convoys.
They seem to be receiving little fire."

Third and First Armies Expand Bridgeheads Bath the Third and First Army bridgeheads were expanding against light opposition yesterday, according to front dispatches, the Associated Press reporting that Patton's troops now have a four-mile-deep hold on the east bank of the Rhine in the Mainz-Worms area.

The Germans asserted that Patton made two crossings, one near Oppenheim, ten miles south of Mainz, and the second near Worms, ten miles farther south. Beyond these positions lies Frankfurt's plain, unbroken for 300 miles along a narrow waist of the Reich to the Red Army's assault line south of the German capital.
The German radio declared early this morning, according to Reuter, that an American attempt to cross the Rhine over a motor bridge at Frankenthal, between Worms and Ludwigshafen, had been smashed.
Although he did not mention the type of bridge or where it was, S and S. Correspondent Jimmy Cannon reported that Third Army troops were using a bridge across the river.

West of the Rhine the 94th Inf. Div. completed clearing Ludwigshafen, and Patch's Seventh Army cut the last enemy salient almost in hall.

Cutting across the north fringe of the Bienwald forest, the 36th Inf. Div. took a number of villages east of Landau, including Hatzenbuhl, four miles west of the Rhine. Kandel, 11 miles northeast of Wissembourg, fell to the 14th Armd. Div.

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